Last night, the Buffalo Bills raised a few eyebrows when they used the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on Clemson running back C.J. Spiller. Long painted as a franchise that would target help at one of its four critical need areas (QB, OT, NT, OLB) in the first round, the selection of Spiller caught many people off guard.
Whether or not you're a fan of Spiller's - I am, by the way, and my sense is that the vast majority of Bills fans understand that the Bills took a phenomenally talented player last night, regardless of their views on needs - Buffalo still must address some of its biggest holes. With the second round of the draft set to begin tonight, there are several options available that would make a great deal of sense to Buffalo.
After the jump, you'll find my (slightly modified due to circumstances) list of the nine players left on the board that I believe would best fit Buffalo - from a need and talent standpoint - with their second-round pick (No. 41 overall). If you've been frequenting Buffalo Rumblings for longer than, say, 24 hours - or are capable of interpreting the picture to the left - you know who tops the list. But that young man isn't the only player that would be a solid pick for Buffalo this evening.
1. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. In my estimation, Clausen is by far the best player remaining on the board, and it's not remotely close. He also happens to play the one position that Buffalo needs to address most, and he does it pretty damned well. I think Clausen has a shot to be an elite NFL signal caller, and if I'm Buddy Nix, I'm not hesitating to do what I need to do to move up and get this guy on my football team. Then again, if I'm Nix, I take Clausen at nine and move on. We'll see. My hopes are not high, but boy, I think the Bills have a unique opportunity to be bold and get themselves a true franchise quarterback prospect tonight. I list Clausen at No. 1 here, which makes it seem like Nos. 2 through 9 are close, but they aren't - he's the only pick that I'd be truly elated with tonight.
2. Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama. Cody is one of a very small handful of prospects still available that has the ability to elevate the level of play of his teammates simply by being on the field. That is how dominant this guy can be, even when he's not playing particularly well. I've said all along that if Buffalo is serious about shoring up their run defense, nobody can help that situation more this year than Cody. He's not a guy I'd move up for, because there are other nose tackle options that I like, but Cody would be a fantastic value/need addition for Buffalo at No. 41. Unless they pass on Clausen to get him - which wouldn't surprise me - you won't hear a word of dissent from me. Cody's a monster.
3. Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas. I'm not as high on Kindle as most; he's not a natural pass rusher, nor is he as explosive as he's made out to be. But he's active, a solid athlete, and had something of a flair for the dramatic while at Texas. I honestly believe that his best pro position will be at strong-side linebacker in the 4-3; if a team picked him to do what Brian Cushing does in Houston, that's where Kindle will be at his best. But he'd be a nice value pick for Buffalo, able to add a coverage and blitzing element to Buffalo's scant depth chart at OLB.
4. Charles Brown, OT, USC. I'm a big fan of Brown's. I've said for months that the big names in this year's tackle class were being overhyped, and I think in the long run, Brown has just as much talent and upside as most of those guys. He's technically raw and needs to get more powerful, but Brown has the feet, length and athleticism to not only start as a rookie, but be a surprising, impressive pass protector. He's not a finished product, but I think he's going to enjoy a long, solid career as a starting left tackle in this league, and would be pleased if he slipped to Buffalo at 41.
5. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas. Conventionally, I think Colt McCoy is a terrible fit for Buffalo. He doesn't have the mechanical issues of a Tim Tebow, but he's not as talented, either - he's not as effective at eluding pressure, does not have Tebow's arm strength, and will have the same learning curve in picking up the intricacies of an NFL offense and diagnosing an NFL defense. At the same time, nothing about Chan Gailey is conventional, and I think Spiller's selection opens up the possibility that the Bills could incorporate a significant chunk of the spread offense into their playbook, with Spiller playing a Percy Harvin-like role. That opens the door for a guy like McCoy, whose collegiate experience and production, elite intangibles and accuracy will appeal to Nix, and whose athleticism and smarts will appeal to Gailey. I'm not sure he slides all the way to Buffalo, but if that's the plan, I wouldn't be shocked - nor particularly dismayed - if Buffalo made a move to get him. That'd be an interesting story to follow, eh?
6. Vladimir Ducasse, OG, Massachusetts. Long term, I think Ducasse has a shot to be a left tackle in this league, but he's so raw and inexperienced that you almost have to start him off inside or at right tackle. With a veritable three-headed monster at running back, it looks like Buffalo's going to be running the ball quite a bit, and given the health status of Eric Wood, it might not be a bad idea for the Bills to add an athletic, mauling guard capable of swinging out to tackle. I think Ducasse is a great blocking personality fit for the Bills, and he'd help shore up an offensive line that could use reinforcement stat.
7. Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana. If you're asking me for a gut-reaction call, I'll tell you that I think if available, Saffold will be Buffalo's second-round pick. Saffold was coached at Indiana by Bobby Johnson, who is now the Bills' assistant offensive line coach under Gailey. There will be a great deal of familiarity with Saffold as a player and a person, and I haven't forgotten the fact that Buffalo desperately needs a left tackle despite my misgivings about Saffold's fit in a city like Buffalo. There are certainly worse picks that Buffalo could make, but I list Saffold this low for a reason. He'd fall into the realm of "solid, wholly unspectacular pick" for Buffalo in round two.
8. Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina. I love this guy. I think he's one of the most underrated and underappreciated prospects available this year, though it's not hard to understand why that is - he's kind of a one-trick pony. He's a fantastic fit for OLB in a 3-4 alignment, and I think he's got the requisite explosion and knack for rushing the passer to be a consistent 6-10 sack guy for the next decade. Schematically, he's limited, and he'll need to learn to drop back into coverage (which he's athletic enough to do). I believe that Buffalo's pass rush is a far more critical need area than most, and I'd be happy with this selection.
9. Linval Joseph, NT, East Carolina. Many experts believed that Joseph had risen high enough to receive first-round consideration. Fast risers are always tricky to project, and trickier to get excited about, but Joseph's potential is enormous. He weighs in at 328 pounds and is brutally strong (he was a junior high weightlifting champion), but he's also a tremendous athlete, and has the athletic chops to play end in a 3-4 alignment as well. That versatility will serve him well. I worry about his desire and the fact that he needs work technically, but if the Bills are planning to reach a little to fill a need in the second round, Joseph might be one of a very small number of players that might be worth the risk.